A mother and her young daughter are sitting in church one day. During the service, opportunity is given for people to publicly receive God’s forgiveness. Every time someone walks forward to do so, the little girl begins to clap. “I’m so sorry,” the mother later tells the church leader. “I explained to my daughter that repentance makes us friends with God again, and she just wanted to cheer for everyone.”
Simplified for a child’s mind, the mother’s words were a good explanation of the gospel. Once God’s enemies, we have been reconciled to Him through Christ’s death and resurrection (Romans 5:9–10). Now we’re indeed God’s friends. Since we were the ones to break the friendship (v. 8), repentance is our part in completing the restoration process. And the little girl’s response couldn’t have been more appropriate. Since all heaven claps when just one person repents (Luke 15:10), she was unknowingly echoing its applause.
Jesus described His reconciling work in similar terms. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). As a result of this sacrificial act of friendship toward us, we can now be friends with Him. “I no longer call you servants . . . . Instead, I have called you friends” (15:15).
Once God’s enemies, we are now God’s friends. It’s an overwhelming thought. And one worth clapping about.
Reconciliation restores those who’ve been alienated. Paul uses the word reconcile more than any other New Testament author, often multiple times in a passage; for example, he uses it three times in Romans 5:10–11. He also uses it in Romans 11:15, 2 Corinthians 5:18–19, and 1 Corinthians 7:11 (related to human reconciliation).
Today’s passage highlights the necessity of Jesus’ death for our reconciliation to God. But that isn’t the end. Our reconciliation through His death leads to our salvation through His life. Paul writes, “How much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” (Romans 5:10). Notice that there are two different tenses used: we have been reconciled and we shall be saved. Paul says that both the death of Jesus and His resurrected life are necessary to our salvation.